As the holidays rapidly approach, the young among us wait in anticipation for a red-suited man breaking into homes and leaving gifts. The wiser of us, however, should be keeping our eyes out for plainclothes burglars looking to take advantage of the season to stock up on stolen presents.
Increasing online sales (Cyber Monday grossed over $1.5 billion this year, up 20% over last year) have led to an increase in presents being delivered and left outside homes. Not surprisingly, opportunistic Grinches have taken advantage of the trend as a way to Christmas shop without visiting a store or opening their wallets.
While no statistics are available for how many doorstep thefts occur every year, being a victim of gift theft carries an added emotional element — I mean who steals a child’s doll?
“[Burglars are] going through these packages for items that could be resold,” Sgt. Darin Ryburn of the Burbank Police Department recently told the New York Times. “It’s a crime of opportunity.”
Standard package theft is bad, but the news gets worse: There have been countless reports around the country of criminals pilfering Christmas trees and decorations; the iconic symbols of the holiday spirit. The worst reports have come from churches, where nativity scenes in general, and baby Jesus figurines in particular, are being taken right out of their cribs by assorted vandals, thieves and heretics. Recently, ABC’s “20/20″ looked into common holiday scams, including manger marauding.
So what do you do? If you’re a church, the answer is easy. A GPS tracker can be placed easily inside any of your nativity scene figurines, allowing you to pinpoint their location easily if they go missing. In fact, during the holiday season, BrickHouse offers a free Spark Nano GPS Tracker rental to keep your decorations in place.
For protecting your porch, the Times piece says that many homeowners are turning to security cameras to keep an eye out when they’re asleep or away from home. “A simple motion-activated porch camera costs about $100,” noted the Times, quoting Marc Horowitz, BrickHouse’s Director of Public Safety Outreach.
Another option for ensuring that your gifts get to you is the My Choice program from UPS, which notifies a customer before their package is set to arrive, enabling them to reroute if no one is going to be home.
No matter what precautions you take, there’s no accounting for someone intent on Scrooging up your holiday plans. Fortunately, ’tis the season for joy and optimism, and no criminal can take that away from you.